I was expecting an exploitation film as this is billed as "an expose of the psychic racket", but while a spiritualism is central to the story the subject is not sensationalized. This is a crime drama.
A reporter is sent by his editor to answer a suspicious ad for an actor, and surreptitiously take the job. He becomes a player in a scam run by a ruthless, murderous swami whose crew includes actors, a film crew, frontmen, guards, and others. One scam involves bilking an investor in a phony oil well deal. The reporter falls for the daughter of the investor, tells her about the scam, but is overheard by another of the swami's crew. They detain him, kidnap the daughter, and set up the investor to pay a $20,000 ransom. The reporter is helped by one of the crew, and the police are called in just as the organization is leaving town.
It's not a bad film for its time. It shows some silent movie touches. Some music would have helped, as it's paced slowly. Even the swami, played by Mischa Auer
, didn't use music during the seances.
According to Wikipedia
, spiritualism was in its heyday from the 1840s to the 1920s. I know Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, was a believer. This sort of stuff is ongoing, though. Psychic healers, tarot readers, astrologers, and others skirt the laws and prey on the ignorant and gullible. I remember reading that Nancy Reagan consulted an astrologer.
I downloaded the 688MB AVI file. the film was in good shape for its age, but the video showed some compression artifacts. The audio seemed muted, but not noisy.